Apple Offering SIM-Free And Unlocked iPhones In UK, France And Canada

Unlocked iPhone to be sold in UK and France

Good news for folks in UK and France. Apple has announced that their customers in these countries can now purchase SIM-free and unlocked units of iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. We've learned that SIM-free, factory unlocked iPhones will also be offered to Canadian customers in July. 

A message posted on Apple's UK website reads:

"When you purchase your iPhone from the Apple Online Store, you’ll get it SIM-free. So you can sign up for service with the carrier of your choice and change your carrier at any time."

Since these iPhones are not locked to a carrier, users can sign up with any compatible carrier of their choice. Also, these subscribers may sign up for any service plan, including the prepaid options. 

As expected, the SIM-free, factory unlocked iPhones do not come cheap. UK customers can purchase the 16GB iPhone 4 for £499 while the 32GB model will cost them £599. These two models are available for €629 and €739 respectively in France. The 8GB iPhone 3GS model has been priced at £419 and €519 respectively in UK and France. 

Despite the high price, factory unlocked iPhones can be highly popular among international travellers who may need to frequently switch carriers. 

Apple has released an FAQ that answers some of the pertinent questions that customers may have about these new plans. Here is an excerpt:

Does iPhone work with any SIM card or carrier worldwide?

iPhone 3GS works with SIM cards and iPhone 4 works with micro-SIM cards from compatible carriers, including prepaid cards. Non-GSM carrier networks do not support iPhone. Availability of 3G data depends on carrier support for the radio frequencies used by iPhone.

Does iPhone support tethering?

Yes. You can share the fast 3G connection on your iPhone with your Mac or PC and connect to the Internet from just about anywhere — no Wi-Fi required. Contact your carrier for details.

Will all iPhone features work with my carrier?

Visual Voicemail requires carrier support and may not function on your carrier’s network. Please read this Support article or contact your carrier for more details.

If I buy iPhone from this Apple Online Store, can I ship it to another country?

No. Orders placed through this Apple Online Store can be shipped only within the country of purchase. You can also shop for friends and family in countries where iPhone is sold. Just visit the local store of the country where you want your products delivered.

You can checkout the complete FAQ on Apple's website

Have you bought or planning to buy the SIM-free, factory unlocked iPhone 4 or the subsidized one from carriers? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Nightedge

    WTF that's not fair!!! Damn I hate AT&T and their stupid contract

  • SwiftUK

    I can't tell you how good it feels being able to get something in the UK first and something that's a better arrangement than in the US for a change, they've had it good for far too long!

    We usually always get everything last and have to pay almost twice the price than them…that's what actually isn't fair!

  • Spitfire tally Ho

    Bravo! Well said ol boy 🙂

  • Dev team may as well bring the unlock for my current 3gs now!

  • jim

    so true!!!

  • adryan222

    true richierich ,but is possible to wait more that a month from now for this to happend

  • joe

    im spoilt for choice now. haveing 6 carriers in the uk. better make my mind up soon my new shiny iphone 4 will be in my hand in one week unlocked.

  • ben

    Wait then that means someone might be able to permanently unlock an iphone? Not like black snow but like any other phone that's unlocked?

  • Jcm800

    Yep you'll have a permanently unlocked iPhone and need never worry about waiting for an unlock 🙂

  • joe

    by the way does anyone know if its unlocked by apple will we still be able to jailbreak it. does anyone know.

  • Spitfire

    Sure u will providing the tools are available for ios4
    and you need not worry about unlocking again 🙂

  • lukec

    There are industry unlocked iPhones in Italy and some other countries (mostly in Europe) for more than 2 years, since the iPhone 3G. I had the unlocked iPhone 3G and could insert any sim card and it worked. And you never worry to upgrade iPhone´s software. That is just the best thing to happen to the UK, France and Canada. And since I am going to study in Canada, I am really excited to hear the great news! 🙂

  • ellinara

    Greece is another country that provides only unlocked iPhone… I study in Canada as well (UofT pre-med) and its nice not to have to jailbreak it!!!

  • Nick

    too bad an iphone in UK unlocked is over $700USD for the 16GB. Otherwise I would be calling in favors in UK.

  • me

    wait.. what about the pricing in canada? you wrote canada in the title, but canada is mentioned no where in your article.

  • Triver

    I bet Apple is counting the days before it can divorce AT&T. I know there are only two GSM carries in the US but at least we would have a choice.

    I feel bad for everyone buying into the upgrade for 199/299 and locking into yet another two years with a terrible carrier.

  • CVG

    yes Joe
    usually I buy my phones in Italy (unlocked) and I live in both Brazil and Switzerland commuting once a month to the States, therefore I do a lot of SIM swapping.
    You can jailbreak any unlocked phone even though once you have the luxury of an unlocked phone you don't want to tamper with.
    An unlocked iPhone is bliss for the frequent traveller.

  • Nick

    thats why i'm going to wait to see what happens this summer. Once the exclusivity with ATT ends, we might be up for surprices, Hopefully we get it for t-mobile.

  • UK_Brian

    I placed my order yesterday for my unlocked iPhone 4 – Bit pricy at £599 but hope to get some money back for my unlocked 3GS

  • Triver

    BTW…. T-mobile will likely get the iphone in the US because they have announced it's coming to their overseas stores soon. check out the link below

  • Jcm800

    £599?? Which version are u getting??

  • jays-on

    Hopefully not, If so our data prices will skyrocket. I currently pay $5.99 for unlimited data. If tmo gets their hands on the iphone I'll be using the phrase "all good things must come to an end!". So lets hope not!

  • english prick!!

  • Dan

    Same as me. £599 32GB unlocked from apple store.

  • Nubs

    good thing i have friends in canada. I think its about time I called in a favor =)

  • eric

    So is it only iphones that are purchased through the Canada/UK apple online stores are factory unlocked?

    For example, if I purchase through Rogers (Canadian service provider), will it be factory unlocked as well?

  • Kurt

    I think someone is a little bitter and jealous.

  • Jcm800

    Ah i see, I'm looking at the £499 16gb version, plenty enough for my needs

  • Nick

    you would have to get an unlimited plan then, like with any other smart phone. I got unlimited data and text with my wife, and still comes out cheaper than ATT

  • If it follows the trend of other mobile phone providers, the ones supplied by the UK carriers, O2, Orange etc will be locked to that carrier. It's worth paying the extra £20 if you ask me to get the unlocked one direct from the iStore – which is what I've done.

  • Spitfire

    Too right

  • me

    definetly, the iphone bein unlocked will save you lots of time, and the hassles, i think its worth it.

  • Squire Davidson

    O2 happily unlock your iPhone for free anyway, as long as you fulfill and contract, or £15 on payg, nothing new here in UK, had an ulocked 3G for quite some time

  • Freddieboy217

    Pre-Ordered my iPhone 4g here in the uk direct from the Apple store unlocked 16g £499
    I got the 3GS 7 months ago on Orange so not entitled to an upgrade as I paid £20 to Orange to get an Apple unlock for the 3GS as Brian says in another comment can always sell th 3GS on

  • josh

    paying $750 (UK) for a $200 (US)phone in the UK is pretty funny.. and to believe that people think apple is doing them favor is even better! Great job apple.

  • Freddieboy217

    Josh I don't look at it as dollars we use £'s here
    I got my 3GS for £89 in Nov not I am not entitled to a subsidized phone again till next year I don't want to wait so I am prepared to pay full price for it the 200 dollars you quote is a subsidised phone that locks you in to high price plans mine will be unlocked and can choose who 's sim and plan goes in my phone

  • TimW™©

    Nah, bitter & twisted I'd say.
    Need some help here Nig J:
    I wonder what network I can join this time?? Hmmm let's see, there's ALL 5 main carriers to choose from!!
    Or should I just buy a sim free?
    Then again, can always ask O2 to UNLOCK my 3Gs and stick with it
    Maybe I should move to the USofA and get tied to an apparently substandard network and send begging tweets to Geohot to release an unlock?
    Nope, UK is fine for iPhone Freedom

  • pie

    Apple Ireland will also be selling sim free 3GS and 4 phones, starting July 2nd with the 8gb 3GS for €499.

  • draz

    If you buy the phone directly from Apple Canada it will be unlocked.

    If you purchase it from one of the 3 'big name' carriers (Rogers, Bell, Telus) and their 'discount' brands (Fido, Virgin Mobile, not sure about Koodo just yet) then it will be locked to that network. But you get the huge discounts of $99 (16gb 3GS) and $149 (32gb 3GS) AND stuck on a 3yr contract AND it will still be locked after the 3yrs.

    Apple Canada sells the 8gb 3GS Black for $549 CAD. That is right an 8gb 3GS model whereas all the carriers are selling 16gb/32gb 3GS. No word on the iPhone 4 pricing or if Apple Canada will have it for sale unlocked.

    But yea considering that nearly all of the carriers that have UMTS networks in Canada already carry the iPhone it was bound to happen. The UK has a number of carriers that also sells the iPhone too don't they? So that could be why Apple is selling it unlocked in these countries and not in others where only 1 carrier has the iPhone (such as in USA)

  • K-Train

    AT&T destroys anything the UK has. Prolly cuz all the tech comes from the US…

  • hunnyluv78

    the USA is supposed to be the greatest country in the world, but I can't choose which cell carrier to use if I pay full price for a phone.

  • Triver

    Well you only get two choices. Att or T-mobile.

    As far as the USA being the greatest country in the world. I would love to hear/read why you think that?

  • Saikhanbayar

    Is cutting mini sim to micro sim work fine? it says micro sim is limited to few carriers at the moment. Does cutting sim to micro work?

  • Sigh..why not in Aus…sigh..

  • Dan

    Yeah it works. theres loads of tuts on the net for it.

  • I would love a factory unlocked phone… but the subsidy really makes the phone affordable… I mean yes we all agree AT&T=evil, but their subsidy brought the iPhone from like $600 to $200.. and I just plainly don't think I would pay $600 for a phone, even though I love my iPhone.

    I think Apple should of used the Nexus One method… yes ship it unlocked, but still have carrier subsidy…

    Nexus One is doing that with T-Mobile. So if you buy the phone with the 2 year contract with T-Mobile it would be $179, but if you buy it intending to use with AT&T then it's $529, even with the different 3G/UMTS bands.

  • Unlocked iPhones had been the norm in Hong Kong ever since the official launch of the iPhone 3G in 2008.

    Mobile phones in Hong Kong had not been sold SIM-lock for over 10 years.

  • The fact that T-Mobile will be selling the iPhone 4 in UK does not mean that all T-Mobile sister companies around the world will get it.

    The mobile carriers negotiate separate contracts locally.

    Case in point, not all Vodafone or joint ventures get to sell iPhones around the world.

  • Here's my question, would a sim-free unlocked iphone 4 or iphone 3gs work with t-mobile in the US? i have a friend who currently uses the 3g unlocked on t-mobile, and they want the new iphone, if they could get the sim-free unlocked version and use it that would be awesome.

  • Saikhanbayar

    I mean, if i cut my GSM sim card here in Mongolia, will it be supported by iphone 4?

  • L0nd0n74

    Currently I'm still going old school on the original 8gb 2g jail broken but have the 4 unlocked on order from Apple. I've saved well over the amount of a a new phone as I've been contract free here in the UK on T-mobile for over 3 years.

    By not upgrading through t-mobile and resigning a contract with them I currently pay only £25 a month for unlimited calls, text, data and for an additional £5 I get 2 hours worth of free international calls per month.

    Suck on that AT&T. (I can rightly say that because I'm originally from the States and once a received end of AT&T's cost and contract, without any lube…)

  • L0nd0n74

    Addition to above…

    Just had a look on AT&T's site and for me to get the same amount of usage that I have here in the UK I'd be paying $115 per month. That and the estimated cost for the phone would cost me $150.

    Simplifying the figures and using todays current currency conversion from £'s to $'s (and not including tax in the US) I'm already saving $70 per month by being contract free here on T-mobile. So even if I pay $600 more for the phone then AT&T contract users will have to pay ($750 unlocked cost for 16gb phone minus the estimated $150 contract phone price in the US). I've paid for the phone in 8.5 months and over a standard 2 year contract saved $1,085.

  • jerry

    I was just wondering, on the apple store it states that you can purchase an iphone 4 32g for 799 US, I'm Australian so it'll cost me about 815 AU I'm assuming its sold unlocked is it? And also, would it work in Australia referring to Sim and Voltage variance between countries?

  • No, its still locked to AT&T just that you don't have to sign a two-year contract.

    While the unlocked iPhones sold in UK and other countries is SIM-Free, which means you can use it with any carrier.

  • m

    Well that would make sense considering Apple is a US company so the solution would be to start investing in your own tech industry

  • tal

    hi !
    my cousin bought me from canada iphone 4 .
    i understood that this is a free sim version.
    so if i live in israel and i want to put the micro sim of my carrier the iphone will read the sim ?
    am i right?